The vision developed for the urban sector of Gujarat focuses on three interrelated aspects which would guide urban growth and development in Gujarat. The vision statement for the urban sector of Gujarat is as follows:
To radically transform existing cities and develop a new genre of satellite/ theme townships and interconnected twin cities which are safe, efficient, clean and green and offer a high quality of life.
- To provide 100% basic infrastructure to the urban population thereby making the cities efficient, productive and inclusive;
- To position Ahmedabad, Surat, Vadodara, and Rajkot as Cities of Excellence through provision of excellent infrastructure;
- To develop new townships around current and emerging economic centres;
The above vision statement has been arrived at by closely observing the current trends of urbanisation witnessed by the state and the nature of economic activity likely to emerge in the state. Provision of 100% basic infrastructure is critical in the light of the widening gaps in the levels and efficiency of service delivery in the state. The existing urban areas including both Municipal Corporations and Municipalities do not fully suffice the current norms for urban service levels. Also the intra urban centre disparities are wide with the core city areas being serviced better than the peripheral areas. Also, in general, there is a wide disparity between infrastructure standards in Municipal corporations when compared to municipalities. With the levels of urbanisation anticipated to reach levels of 55% by 2020, it is critical to ensure that the urban infrastructure machinery is well geared to service the large urban population.
In addition to development of all the urban centres of the state, specific efforts and initiatives need to be taken aimed at facilitating accelerated and exceptional growth for the four top cities of the State: viz. Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Surat and Rajkot. As has been indicated earlier these cities, over 50% of the population residing in the urban areas of the state are concentrated in these top four cities. Being major economic centres, and possessing the potential to grow tremendously, it is being envisaged to develop and position these cities as ‘Cities of Excellence’. These cities would have to be developed such that they are competitive offering excellent infrastructure. Such infrastructure support is likely to facilitate in positioning these cities as attraction for huge foreign investments and business houses. The infrastructure provision should keep in mind the challenges of the continuous peripheral development in these cities. The concept of rural-urban continuum development, or ‘rurban’ development should be the underlying principle. The excellent infrastructure provisioning would also include advanced and well developed urban transport systems which address several areas of public transportation. The transport systems also need to support the increasing demand for regional linkages. This may be achieved through development of fast passenger railway corridors with the cities of excellence as nodal points. This would strengthen the gradual growth of mega cities to metros. With the excellent transport connectivity in place regional centres around mega cities would cater to residential need and mega cities would provide employment opportunity. Regional development approach could be adopted here. New townships would develop along transport corridor. This would improve the scenario of haphazard development happening in the peri-urban areas today.
In addition to focussing on improving the urban infrastructure situation of the existing urban centres, a focussed plan to facilitate growth of new urban centres which would absorb the increase to the urban population is critical. Development of townships of different scales would serve multiple purposes. It would reduce pressure from the existing urban centres which are already facing a crunch for the municipal services. Secondly, development of new townships from scratch offers the possibility of facilitating urban development in regions which have an inherent economic potential. Instead of haphazard urban growth which follows the current trend of merely locating in the fringes of the present urban centres. Development of townships would ensure a more spatially balanced development of both infrastructure and settling in of the urban population. These three pronged vision statement would guide urban growth and development in the state for the years to come. It is important to ensure that concerted steps are taken in this direction which would facilitate realisation of the vision. A detailed description of these vision statements is elaborated upon in the sections below.